Today is treatment day. It’s an odd feeling that’s hard to describe. On one hand I’m excited that I’m receiving treatment and doing something proactive to get better. On the other hand, it’s kind of hard to get excited about receiving Chemo. The good news here, of course, is that we don’t have to go to San Antonio any more!
Today I want to talk about something that we haven’t really brought up. The survivability of this cancer.
Practically everyone we’ve talked to has had a different opinion on the survivability of this cancer. When the doctors lump me in with the patients that have Pancreatic Cancer, it’s pretty grim. Odds are close to 90% that a patient with Pancreatic Cancer will, even after surgery and treatment, have a cancer come back within 5 years. When it does it is particularly aggressive.
Here’s the key; I don’t have Pancreatic Cancer. My cancer is Ampullary. The Ampulla of Vater is the duct that runs from the pancreas to the small intestine. In a study I ready by the School of Medicine at UCLA (I may have that wrong, it might have been USC, I don’t remember) only 0.02% of the cancers diagnosed each year are Ampullary. So what does that mean. Frankly, it means nobody knows!
Because so few patients are diagnosed with this type of cancer, there is no research done on it. Not only is it too hard to research because it’s so hard to find test subjects, but even if you do, there’s not enough money to be made in finding adequate treatment. Cancers like, Breast, Colon, Prostate which are much more common are the ones that get the research dollars. Don’t get me wrong, I completely understand. I would direct the monies in the same way. But the bottom line is that they just have no idea what the real prognosis is going to be so they just lump it in with Pancreatic Cancer.
When I was disqualified for the research study, the doctor running the study told me that patients with Pancreatic Cancer have close to a 90% chance of reoccurrence. His hope was that with the vaccine he was developing that he might be able to reduce that to only 30%. I was disqualified because, according to him, my cancer only had a 30% chance of recurrence anyway. I could completely skew the results of the study. The bottom line is that they have no idea what’s going to happen. Nobody has ever taken the time, money or energy to find out.
The other day I was talking to Lisa about this. I told her that truthfully, I may have 6 months left, or I could have 50 years left. I believe that’s true for everyone. There is very little doubt in my mind that I will still be here for close to another 50 years. Lisa says that’s because I’m the most stubborn person she’s ever met. Maybe that it. Maybe it’s just that I have faith that God’s not done with me yet.